Returning to the friendly confines of the renovated NEO Fieldhouse, Northeastern A&M's Lady Norse open a 30-game basketball schedule Monday, Nov. 3, by hosting arch-rival Crowder (Mo.) Community College at 6 p.m.
Coach Jim Rowland's Lady Norse begin practices in the repaired gymnasium on Monday after practicing and playing last season in the two-year-old Student Activity Center.
The NEO Fieldhouse was inundated by Tar Creek flood waters on July 4, 2007.
"It will be good to get back home," Rowland said. "After all, our sophomores haven't even practiced in the fieldhouse, so our first game with Crowder will be a new experience for both of us."
Last season the Lady Norse finished third in the Eastern Division of the Bi-State Athletic Conference with a 5-3 record. The Lady Norse were eliminated in the semifinals of the Region II Tournament by a 98-80 score from the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith to finish 23-8 on the season.
"I joke that 'I don't know who made it, but they're crazy for making this kind of a schedule'", Rowland said. "It is very tough."
After opening the season against Crowder College, the Lady Norse turn around and travel to Coffeyville, Kan., the next night.
"Both these teams are much improved over what they were last season," Rowland said. "And with the tradition of the rivalry with both teams that makes it tougher."
During the weekend of Nov. 7-8, the Lady Norse travel to Great Bend, Kan., to play in the Barton Community College Classic. NEO will face Barton on Friday and Pratt (Kan.) Community College on Saturday.
Continuing a four-game road trip, the Lady Norse travel to Parsons, Kan., Nov. 10, for a 6 p.m. contest with Labette Community College.
Three straight home games against Western Oklahoma on Nov. 13, Seminole State on Nov. 17 and a Coffeyville rematch on Nov. 18 highlight the next week.
The Lady Norse travel to Tishomingo on Nov. 20 to play Murray State before returning home Nov. 24 to face Labette and traveling to Neosho, Mo., on Nov. 25 for a rematch with Crowder.
"This is going to be a very hectic month," Rowland said. "We're playing 11 games in a short period of time.
"We've got nine freshmen that are going to have to make the adjustment to playing at this level against some very good basketball teams," Rowland said. "it will be physically demanding."
Following a trip to Tonkawa to face Northern Oklahoma on Dec. 1, the Lady Norse return home Dec. 4 to face Northern-Enid.
The Lady Norse return to Coffeyville on Dec. 5 to play Fort Scott, Kan. at 3 p.m. in the opening round of the Jayhawk Shoot-Out. The Lady Norse face Highland, Kan., at 9 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 7.
"We've got to mix non-conference games with games against teams from the Bi-State West," Rowland said. "So, we're in a situation where we're play 15 games in less than two months and then the other 15 over a three month period."
Traveling to Chanute, Kan., on Dec. 11, the Lady Norse conclude the first half against Neosho Community College.
"I don't like playing non-conference games in the second half," Rowland said. "Because by that time we're trying to reach our peak heading into the playoffs."
Returning to the hardwoods on Jan. 10, the Lady Norse travel to Seminole State before playing Murray State on Jan. 12 and Northern-Tonkawa on Jan. 20 at home.
Following a trip to Northern-Enid on Jan. 20, the Lady Norse start play in the Bi-State East on Jan. 26 against Arkansas-Fort Smith in Miami.
The top four teams from both divisions advance to the Region II Tournament, March 5-8 in Shawnee.